Do you juggle?
I mean, not professionally in the circus or anything like that. (But hey, if you do, cool!)
I mean the Juggle of Life.
The career obligations. The family obligations.The personal needs and plans and desires. The spouse and the kids and the house and the cats and the dog. And the mortgage and the bills and the errands and the carpool and the laundry and the 5 am workouts and the 5 pm happy hours and that book you started writing 9 years ago but have only talked about since because there was no time to write, only time to pine about it…
Oh, wait, that’s me.
But perhaps you can relate. Are you someone who has it all but has no idea what to do with it?
Some days, is it all too much? Do you operate in a constant State of Crazy?
There were certainly times I wanted to chuck it all. But I wore my busy-ness like a badge of honor because I felt I was upholding some notion of Having it All-ness that people deemed important.
The truth was I worked. At all of it. All the time.
Until work no longer worked for me.
I couldn’t admit then what I can say now.
Work-Life Balance is a myth designed to keep people dancing.
(Yes, this article is posted in a category called “Work-Life Balance.” I did that so people could locate and identify the topic. But I will soon replace it with a new word…. stick with me for just a few paragraphs more…)
It took me a while but I’ve come to the conclusion there is no such thing as “Work-Life Balance.”
Sure, there’s the opportunity when you’ve had a bad day to go home to people who don’t rate your performance (or shouldn’t, at least) or to hobbies and passions that fill your heart.
And there’s the opportunity when personal demands become too demanding or your children are treating you like a human napkin that you can go to work and be challenged by like-minded and creative people. Or at least get monetary compensation for the time you spend there.
But that’s not “balance.” That’s the opportunity presented by a full life, of having multiple components that complete you.
The reason I hate the term “work-life balance” is that it conjures up images of a scale in which all things should be equal.
And as we know, it rarely works that way. Maybe you should challenge your assumptions.
Oftentimes, your attention is absolutely needed at work and you have to dig in, sometimes to the detriment of everything else.
Because, you know, that’s your job.
Other times, your needs outside of work demand priority and the scale shifts in the opposite direction.
And you probably worry in both of those cases, “Am I doing it right? My work-life balance is out the window!”
Balance suggests an equality on each side in which all things are even.
Forget it. It doesn’t happen.
You’ve been waiting, so here’s where I suggest a new phrase to replace Work-Life Balance.
Drum-roll please. Hold onto your juggling balls…
Let’s strive for Work-Life Enoughness.
Wait, I hear you say. That’s not a word.
Neither was being a “Belieber” until Justin Bieber came along. Neither was “meme” or “binge-watch” or “covfefe” until recently.
So now we have “enoughness.” What is enoughness?
It’s ensuring that over time, all facets of your life have enough to meet your needs. And just enough, the right amount.
Not too little, which leaves you unfulfilled. And not too much, which creates overload. That’s not ideal either.
When you’re in overload your gas tank is so full it runneth over. And the excess has nowhere to go. But it’s likely flammable so you have to deal with it. Siphon back. Rev down the highway to use that excess fuel. And be more mindful the next time of how much your tank can hold.
Now you can look at all parts of your life and say, “Do I have enough here? Do I have too much? How much is enough for me? What is my enoughness?”
Is it the same thing as “balance”? I don’t think so, because it’s not something you need to strive to make equal, only enough.
There’s no need to feel guilty about being unable to find an unattainable state of equilibrium.
So here’s my exercise for you:
Take stock of your happiness. Review how you spend your time.
Do you feel fulfilled? Do you have enough? Do you have too much in any one area?
When the cup is empty, fill it.
And just like when you’ve had too much to drink, when you’ve had enough, pour a little less the next time.
Healthy lifestyles that suggest you ditch the scale. I say the same.
Let’s stop teetering in the name of balance.
Enough with The Juggle. Embrace Enoughness instead.
That alone is Enough.
Valerie Gordon is an award-winning television producer, content creator, lifelong storyteller, and the founder of career and communications strategy firm Commander-in-She. Some days she speaks at conferences and works with corporations to elevate leaders and build strong teams. Other days she sits on the couch with a cup of coffee. And that alone is enough.